Seeing God

“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her:
‘You are the God who sees me,’
for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’” 
Genesis 16:13 (NIV)

“’But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face,
for no one may see me and live.’”
Exodus 33:20 (NIV)

“By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger;
he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.
Hebrews 11:27 (NIV)

Hagar, who is referred to in our Genesis verse, was an Egyptian slave who was abused by her owner Sarai, so she fled into the wilderness. The Lord sent an angel to speak to her. We might wonder at the angel’s instructions because the message was for her to return to her abusive owner. Again, we are confronted with the fact that the Lord leads many of His people by the road less travelled. It will be eternity before we realize all the wisdom of our sovereign God in His ways with us.

Hagar said she “saw” God. Moses was told he could not see God and in Hebrews we read that Moses “saw” God. What is going on here? Can we see God or not?

We are given some idea of how we “see” or “hear” God in creation. Psalm 19:1-4 (NIV) reads,

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, 
their words to the ends of the world.”

The Psalmist tells us that the universe makes clear how remarkable the Creator is. Many astronomers and physicists make credible testimony to the amazing splendor of creation. The universe “speaks” to us of the power, wisdom, and enormity of the One Who assembled all we can see and cannot see (dark matter) in space.

We also “see” the Lord in the blessings we receive through answered prayer.

The ultimate vision of our Creator is in Jesus Christ, the One Who said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” Studying the Gospels gives us many beautiful portraits of the Saviour. Reading the Passion Narratives in the Gospels we are shown the extent of God’s love for us in our Lord’s suffering and death on the cross.

May the Easter story fill your heart and mind with joy and confidence today as you continue to serve the resurrected Saviour. The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed.

Man of Sorrows! what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
Full atonement! can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die;
It is finished! was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious king,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior

– P. P. Bliss

The Lord Is Risen He Is Risen Indeed

“They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem.
There they found the Eleven and those with them,
assembled together and saying, ‘It is true!
The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’” 
Luke 24:33-34 (NIV)

I truly missed a wonderful Christian tradition this Easter Sunday. Believers usually greet each other on Easter Sunday morning with the word from one, “The Lord is risen!” and the other person responding, “He is risen indeed!”

At the heart of the Christian message to the world is the truth that on the third day our Lord rose physically from the dead. Take that historical fact from our message and the whole Christian gospel collapses.

A story is told of a missionary who heard a crowd cheering outside his apartment one morning. He went outside to find out what was happening. He asked one of the crowd what was causing the excitement. The person replied that a bone from the body of the founder of that country’s religion was being carried to their temple. It was an annual event for the people.

The missionary quickly realized he had found a good illustration for the distinction between the religion of the people of that country and the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He explained to the informer that if a bone of Jesus could be found then the Christian message would not be the Good News it claimed to be and the whole system of Christian beliefs would become instantly irrelevant because Jesus never rose from the dead.

Christian, go into each new day rejoicing that you serve a risen Saviour and that the same power it took to raise Him from the dead now energizes you to live a life of faith. 

“…and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted
when he raised Christ from the dead…”

Ephesians 1:19-20 (NIV)

I hear the words of love,
I gaze upon the blood,
I see the mighty sacrifice,
And I have peace with God.

’Tis everlasting peace!
Sure as Jehovah’s Name,
’Tis stable as His steadfast throne,
For evermore the same.

The clouds may go and come,
And storms may sweep my sky;
This blood-sealed friendship changes not,
The Cross is ever nigh.

My love is ofttimes low,
My joy still ebbs and flows,
But peace with Him remains the same,
No change my Savior knows.

I change, He changes not;
The Christ can never die;
His love, not mine, the resting-place,
His truth, not mine, the tie.

The Cross still stands unchanged,
Though heaven is now His home;
The mighty stone is rolled away,
But yonder is His tomb!

And yonder is my peace,
The grave of all my woes!
I know the Son of God has come,
I know He died and rose.

I know He liveth now
At God’s right hand above;
I know the throne on which He sits,
I know His truth and love!

– H. Bonar

Sunday Or Resurrection Day

“On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.”
Acts 20:7 (NIV)

“On the first day of every week,
each one of you should set aside a sum of money
in keeping with your income, saving it up,
so that when I come no collections will have to be made.”
1 Corinthians 16:2 (NIV)

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance:
that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried,
that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…”
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NIV)

Many times, when preaching, I have made the statement, “If I had any say in the matter, I would declare a moratorium on the word “Sunday” and insist we all call it ‘Resurrection Day.”

Where do we get the names for the days of the week anyway? They came from the ancient names for gods and celestial objects such as Thursday for the god Thor and Sunday for our sun.

It appears from our verses today that the early church gathered together on the first day of the week to break bread and make contributions to the Lord’s work. Why did they use that day instead of another? For that matter why do we meet on Sunday instead of Saturday or Wednesday? Ask the average Christian and they would suggest Sunday because we are free that day from work, etc. Rarely can people give the biblical reason.

The early church made Sunday their day for coming together because it was on the first day of the week Christ rose from the dead. So, I suggest we think of every Sunday as Resurrection Day or Easter Day. If we did this it would reinforce the central doctrine of our faith. We need this emphasis on Christ’s resurrection to feed our faith especially in the face of death and dying all around us.

All societies have cemeteries but only Christianity has an empty tomb. That fact needs to be celebrated by us regularly. I find it very interesting that the infant church chose resurrection day to celebrate Jesus’ death by breaking bread. The church brought together the two most profound truths of the Gospel i.e., Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. The two truths that happened in history as predicted in Scripture.

If you remember, consider thinking of Sunday each week as the day of our Lord’s resurrection and that is why you spend time in worship, breaking bread, singing, prayer, reading Scripture, fellowship and receiving a sermon. It is a grand celebration worthy of our best and heartfelt participation.

Safely through another week
God has brought us on our way;
let us now a blessing seek,
waiting in his courts today;
day of all the week the best,
emblem of eternal rest.

While we pray for pard’ning grace
through the dear Redeemer’s name,
show thy reconciled face;
take away our sin and shame;
from our earthly cares set free,
may we rest this day in thee.

Here we come thy name to praise;
let us feel thy presence near;
may thy glory meet our eyes
while we in thy house appear;
here afford us, Lord, a taste
of our everlasting feast.

May thy gospel’s joyful sound
conquer sinners, comfort saints;
may the fruits of grace abound,
bring relief for all complaints;
thus may all our Sabbaths prove,
’til we join the church above.

– John Newton

The Perfect Saviour

“We all stumble in many ways.”
James 3:2 (NIV)

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest 
who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, 
let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize
with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted
in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, 
so that we may receive mercy and find grace
to help us in our time of need.”
Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV)

The picture some people have of believers is of a religion that offers prosperity and a life filled with all the heart could desire. Outsiders sometimes see us as confident, with an air of superiority. In fact, some Christians give off such a wrong image of what it means to be a child of God.

Our text today speaks of believers being weak, tempted, having times of need, and stumbling. Such teaching contradicts the smooth speaking, smiling people we see on Christian TV programs. They do not speak of yielding to temptation, or stumbling in other ways. Everything has a positive spin on it.

The weary Christian is riddled with guilt and can easily be overcome by their real or apparent failures. Christian—listen to the Scriptures and take heart from what James wrote. All of us who love and follow the Good Shepherd have times where we stumble. But we find the loving and perfect Redeemer coming alongside of us and lifting us from the place where we stumbled and placing us on high and safe ground.

Having died and risen again for His people our perfect Redeemer will not fall short of His goal of presenting us complete to His Father in heaven. We shall certainly occupy our place in our Father’s house once our Saviour has prepared it for us. Marvel at the Perfect Redeemer’s persistent love for you. It is a love that will never, never cease. Your perfect Redeemer will guide you safely home, not because you live a perfect life, but because He is faithful to the end.

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small,
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.” 
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy pow’r, and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots,
And melt the heart of stone.

For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim—
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

And when, before the throne,
I stand in Him complete,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
My lips shall still repeat 

Silly Thinking

“The fool says in his heart,
‘There is no God.’”
Psalm 14:1 (NIV)

“‘What are we accomplishing?’ they asked.
‘Here is this man performing many signs. 
If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him,
and then the Romans will come
and take away both our temple and our nation.’”
John 11:47-48 (NIV)

I recall watching an atheistic physicist bitterly complaining about how often Albert Einstein spoke about God. He was angry with possibly the greatest physicist of all time because Einstein was sure a God existed. We know Einstein’s view of God was that God was impersonal, but he believed that God did create all we see and the laws that govern the universe.

Some scientists who are atheists had a poor relationship with their father and/or were abused by religious leaders growing up. These negative memories cause them to deny belief in God.

It is sad to think that some brilliant scientists refuse to accept the obvious evidence that the universe demands us to acknowledge the hand of God behind all we see and learn from the world around us.

When Jesus rose Lazarus from the dead 4 days after he died the religious leaders in Jerusalem acknowledged the miraculous deed but decided they needed to take Jesus out before He did more such miracles and draw the people to Himself and away from them. No real effort was made by those who hated Jesus to deny the miracles. They knew the miracles were real and that Jesus had the ability to cause people born blind to see and even raise the dead! Thus, they ganged up on the Saviour and soon succeeded in crucifying Him.

If you need your faith fed, read in the Gospels and have your faith feast on the miracles our Lord did when here on earth. Consider His remarkable speech and make your mind follow the wisdom contained in His words. Put aside the silly speech of those educated beyond their intelligence and fill your mind with eternal truths. Worship your Master today for all He has done to show you He is all He claims to be. May the following hymn assist you in your devotions today.

Fairest Lord Jesus,
ruler of all nature,
O thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish,
Thee will I honor,
thou, my soul’s glory, joy, and crown.

Fair are the meadows,
fairer still the woodlands,
robed in the blooming garb of spring:
Jesus is fairer,
Jesus is purer
who makes the woeful heart to sing.

Fair is the sunshine,
fairer still the moonlight,
and all the twinkling starry host:
Jesus shines brighter,
Jesus shines purer
than all the angels heaven can boast.

Beautiful Savior!
Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor,
praise, adoration,
now and forevermore be thine.